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The Business of Giving

Exploring philanthropy, non-profits and socially motivated business, from the Gates Foundation to your donation. A fresh look at the economy of good intentions.

November 30, 2010 at 6:14 PM

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Dave Matthews gives fans a ticket to philanthropy

Posted by Kristi Heim

Musician Dave Matthews is testing a new idea in Seattle that he hopes will inspire more giving across the country.

In unique partnership with the website JustGive, Matthews is letting fans direct the proceeds of two upcoming Seattle shows to the charities of their choice. Every ticket is matched with an equal donation to philanthropy.

"The point is the act of giving and making the process available," he said in an interview. "I think it may make people feel a certain amount of power to see the ease of how you can give."

For each ticket sold, the buyer will receive a credit back for the full $150 ticket and handling price to apply to any of the 1.5 million charities in JustGive's database.

Matthews, who has performed benefits for causes ranging from Hurricane Katrina and Haiti earthquake relief, family farmers and Tibet, estimates the events will raise a million dollars over two nights. He and Tim Reynolds will play at McCaw Hall on Dec. 6 and 7.


Musician and actor Dave Matthews wants to apply his creativity and resources to philanthropy, and inspire fans to do the same.

The event is an example of new ways philanthropy is being shaped by the Web and moving from a model of fewer, large donors to one that engages many more individuals.

Matthews, 43, said he and his manager, Coran Capshaw, were thinking about how to inspire giving a few months ago when they came up with the idea.

"If I was to do a concert for one organization or another, there are a few people who might have reasons, political or social, why they don't want to support that," Matthews said. "That might discourage them from going to the concert."

Concert goers will have a few weeks after the show to decide where to donate, Capshaw said, and any money that isn't allocated will be distributed among the charities already chosen by other fans.

Asked whether too many choices might dilute the money's impact, Matthews said even small amounts could make a difference.

"If $1,000 goes to a small SPCA, that makes a big difference," he said. "If a small community garden gets $150, that's a lot."

He said the exercise also reflects his faith in human nature.

"I think inherent in all of us is a natural concern for one another, for our neighbors," he said. When organizations serving good causes need help more than ever, "it really falls on us."

After trying out the concept in Seattle and seeing how it works, Matthews and Capshaw are hoping to expand it nationally with a festival or tour and get other bands involved.

Although the Seattle shows are sold out, Capshaw said he and Matthews contributed a bit of additional funding and took some outside donations to pull it off.

Matthews, who has roots in South Africa and Virginia but has made Seattle his home, called the act of giving "a chemically changing experience."

But he won't be lecturing about philanthropy from the stage.

"My job on that night is to put on a good show."

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